The buzz of the bees
Nancy Lanteigne and Syed Mohamed own WB Gold farm on Stukely Road in West Bolton. Initially weekend residents on Bailey Road, they had planned to move here full-time in a few years. The birth of their daughter Leilah sped things up a bit and they bought a farm on Stukely Road. These two bee lovers practised urban beekeeping in Montreal and their hobby soon became a passion. They increased their hives from two to eight and that number jumped to 90 when they moved to the farm.
However, for their honey to be certified organic, which requires that even the beeswax come from their own property, they had to get rid of hives acquired from another producer, bringing their current total down to 40. What distinguishes their honey from others is that they give a good portion back to the bees, while other beekeepers feed theirs sugar and water to keep them alive through the harsh winter. The result for Nancy and Syed is lower net honey production but they make up for that by harvesting beeswax, pollen and propolis, also called bee glue. This year, thanks to Gestrie-Sol, which helped them obtain a grant under the Quebec government’s Prime-Vert program, they were able to plant trees, shrubs and honey plants.
What about the beef?
The bees aren’t alone on the property. When Nancy and Syed signed the contract to buy the farm, the seller mentioned that livestock was included. Having noticed a chicken house, they assumed there would be poultry, only to learn that their 500 acres were also home to 11 Highland cows and steers. With help and advice from nearby Highland cattle farmers Lise Boucher and John Badger, the couple took on this unexpected responsibility as well. Very few of the cattle go to the slaughterhouse because their main role on the farm is to help produce high-grade hay. The owners realized that rotating pastures annually for grazing greatly improves the quality of the forage they sell to other farms. Only one or two animals end up on people’s dinner plates each year, just enough to cover the cost of feeding a herd that has now grown to 15 head.
The farm is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to WB Gold honey, products for sale include kombucha, banana bread and energy bars made with that same honey, along with Highland beef. It’s a tempting stop for cyclists and other summer visitors to West Bolton. WB Gold honey can also be bought at Barnes Home Hardware and Panissimo in Knowlton and at the Métro store in Bromont.
Translation: Brian McCordick